Wales? Is that on the District Line?
As we've reported many times before, government legal departments and IT projects don't mix – they always run late, are way over budget and its usually the taxpayers who have to pick up the pieces. The latest fiasco concerns the LIBRA system that is intended to centralise records in magistrates courts in England & Wales – and to issue summonses.
After taking the best part of a decade to develop (we know, they could have done it in Sharepoint in 6 months) the system went live in December – a bargain at £447m although the original budget was £187m but, hey, what's a £260m overspend when its not your money?
But, now a problem has been spotted. Remember that original brief: to issue summonses in England & Wales? It seems someone in Whitehall failed to realise that a lot of people use the Welsh language in Wales and forgot to include in the contract a clause to provide a built-in translator for English-to-Welsh documents. The net result is that since LIBRA arrived, the Ministry of
Justice has been forced to translate summonses manually on request, and
officials there will continue to do so until the problem is fixed – hopefully in
September. The cost of the upgrade work is expected to be another £4m.